As the regular season nears, the San Francisco 49ers still have to trim the down the roster to 53 players. The team has begun that process, beginning with the release of quarterback Matt Barkley.
By Saturday at 1 p.m. PT, all 32 NFL clubs must have their active rosters at the league-maximum of 53 players. Teams are allowed to carry up to 90 players during the preseason — after Thursday night’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers, San Francisco had 88 players rostered.
On Friday, the 49ers wasted little time starting the cutting process. The first to go was quarterback Matt Barkley, who was a free-agent acquisition this past offseason.
This is one that has been on the horizon for the past two weeks, as rookie C.J. Beathard dominated the snap count between the pair in preseason. That means the 49ers will roll with Brian Hoyer and Beathard as the No. 1 and No. 2 quarterbacks to begin the regular season.
Here are the full list of cuts, per the team itself:
As noted, there are several moves made that have implications for the rest of the roster. Most notable is the running back position, where the 49ers released two players both obtained this offseason.
With Tim Hightower and Kapri Bibbs both released, that indicates San Francisco is most likley going young at the position. Fourth-round draft selection Joe Williams and undrafted rookie Matt Breida, as well as third-year man Raheem Mostert, look set to be the backups behind starting running back Carlos Hyde.
There is also some more clarity provided at offensive line, as the 49ers parted ways with four of them in the first round of cuts. San Francisco also just traded for offensive lineman Laken Tomlinson, presumably to replace Joshua Garnett. As it stands there is no final decision on Garnett, who hurt his knee during the opening of training camp:
But whatever decision the team makes, it’s a matter of how much time he’ll miss as head coach Kyle Shanahan said after the Chargers game that Garnett was headed for injured-reserve. Garnett will miss either a portion of the season or the entire season.
The first round of cuts are now over, and questions still remain at tight end, wide receiver, defensive line. The 49ers traded away Vance McDonald to the Pittsburgh Steelers, paving the way for rookie George Kittle to occupy the starting tight end position. But behind Kittle on the depth chart is not as sure — what are the fates of Logan Paulsen, Blake Bell and Cole Hiktuini?
At wide receiver, Pierre Garçon, Marquise Goodwin, Aldrick Robinson and Trent Taylor all appear to be locks. San Francisco may opt to carry six or seven wide receivers, that remains to be seen, but six is the more likely number. For the final presumed two spots, there are a handful of players fighting for it.
Undrafted rookies Victor Bolden Jr. and Kendrick Bourne have both showed they can make an impact on the game in the return and receiving game, respectively. There’s also long-time veteran Jermey Kerley, who was re-signed in the offseason. Aaron Burbridge is a candidate as well, considering Burbridge has proved to be a competent special-teams player in the past.
Over the course of the next half-day, the team will come to form the final 53-man roster. Currently, the 49ers roster stands at 71 players.